Tips for Working With Recruiters

Tips For Working With Recruiters What should I expect from my third party recruiter who is working with our organization on a “contingency basis”?  There is a fundamental difference in terms of “scope of work” when you consider engaging a recruiter on a “contingency” versus “retained” basis.  If you have chosen to “retain” a recruiter, your expectations in terms of deliverables should be very high.  You want them to have completed a thorough “vetting” process and bring only those excellent candidates forth who are worthy of making a “short list”.   They will be, in fact, your right hand person throughout the entire recruitment process.   On the other hand, if you are asking a recruiter to work with you on a “contingency” basis, they know that they have a much lower chance of actually closing the placement with you and making their fee.  What that means is you will not have their “undivided” attention to your needs.  What can you do to ensure you get more of their attention to your search than other searches they might be working on?

Here are a few pointers:


  1. Make it an exclusive agreement – you will not use other recruiters while they are engaged in this search for you.  Of course, if they don’t come up with results in a reasonable amount of time, you should expect to be able to put this search out to other contingency recruiters.  Make sure you are comfortable that your recruiter has the appropriate “reach” for the type of candidates you are looking for before committing to an exclusive arrangement.  If they are part of a network, such as NPA Worldwide then you can have the confidence that they will have the resources to find excellent candidates for you.
  2. Pay a nominal “engagement fee”.  This can really up the ante with respect to attention of your search assignment.  In effect, you have given them a small portion of their overall potential fee so they are beholding to you (ahead of any other contingency search they may have on the books.)  If you can’t pay an Engagement Fee then see if you can offer a “cancellation fee” in the event you need to cancel the search because you found someone better on your own.  The value of having a recruiter on contingency means you have a chance to compare your candidate to those who are being submitted by the contingency recruiter.
  3. Get back to your recruiter with IMMEDIATE feedback once they have submitted candidates for your consideration.  Even if you haven’t heard back from the hiring manager, at least get in touch with your recruiter and tell them that.  Nothing is more discouraging for a recruiter than to have done all the work in getting resumes over to you, only to sit and wait for a response.
  4. Do all you can internally to move the recruitment process along at a good pace.  In today’s market where extraordinary talent is in high demand, too many recruitment processes break down because of lack of feedback and movement down the hiring continuum.  Candidates get mixed messages when they are confidentially considering your opening while still employed with another organization.  It makes things very unsettling and they are more likely to pull themselves from the process.
  5. Pay your invoice on time!  Don’t make the recruiter come after you only to find that you had it sitting on your desk and didn’t approve it and send it to payables.  Once the work is completed to your satisfaction, the recruiter deserves to be paid on time.  Often the bill is paid many months after the search process started ( in contingency work, the recruiter doesn’t get paid until their candidate is hired)
  6. Periodically, thank the recruiter – preferably in writing for a job well done.  Nothing increases the relationship with a recruiter like a simple “thank you”.
  7. Offer to be a reference for their services to others.
  8. Refer a business colleague to them. 



Thinking about your next career move – late in the game?

Often, we are approached by senior leaders who have reached a point in their career where they are either taking “early retirement” or wanting a significant change. For years, they have developed so many skills and abilities and yet, they do not feel fulfilled in what they are doing. Some may have been “squeezed out” of their companies, making room for younger up-and-coming professionals. Spending
2/3 of your time working and not believing you are “making a difference” can be really deflating.

When I am asked, “What should I be doing at this stage in my life?,” I often suggest that the person think about applying their leadership skills and networking abilities to the Not-For-Profit sector. There are some that still think that the typical NFP organization is “sleepy” – not forward-thinking – and basically a placeholder in one’s career. Nothing could be further from the truth!

With government cut-backs in terms of funding, all NFPs are facing significant challenges in continuing to fund their operations. Those organizations who have boards who are “forward-thinking” and “proactive” are already taking the steps necessary to bolster operational leadership in order to ensure the sustainability of their respective agencies.

I have witnessed first-hand the transformation of well-intentioned Not-For-Profit organizations as they consider hiring from outside of their sector. Strong leadership skills and business acumen coupled with compassionate dedication for the particular cause, have proven to be a powerful combination in gaining traction where there is significant competition for funding, resources, and skilled workers.

Thinking about your own career and all your accomplishments? How about volunteering at an NFP on a committee or board. If you do, you will quickly see how things “work” and you might want to consider applying for a leadership role as the “next step” in your career.

How Do I Know When I’m Ready to Make a Career Move?

F.E.A.R. (False Expectations Appearing Real) can be a big deterrent when it comes to self-career management.  It is never easy to deal with change and it is particularly stressful when it comes to your career.  Many people put so much pressure on themselves to have everything “absolutely in order” before they make up their minds to even look at another career option.  You will be missing out on opportunities if you get stuck early in the process by “analysis paralysis”.  One of the best ways to keep your career options open is to develop a trusting relationship with a well respected, recruitment professional who will grow to understand what constitutes an excellent career fit.  Understand however, that they are not in the business to “find you your next career move” but rather they are one of the “tools in the toolbox” in order to facilitate such a life changing event.  It is also a good idea to keep your resume up to date.  Rather than scramble at the last minute to put something on paper, keep a list of things you actually do at work so you can develop a clean resume with minimal effort.  Make sure the things on your resume are relevant to the opportunity you are considering.  Don’t be afraid to take the first step and at least have a conversation about a new opportunity.  If you don’t open a door, there is no way you can walk through it.

How to Successfully Prepare for an Interview

Congratulations – you’ve made it the interview stage!

Now what?

Interview prep, of course. With nearly 30 years interviewing and recruiting candidates, we have comprised a list of important tips to consider when preparing for an interview.

  1. Visualize Yourself in the Role Already

By visualizing yourself in the job, you will naturally express your answers with confidence, enthusiasm, and determination. This will help with the pre-interview jitters everyone gets.

  1. Do Your Homework

You should expect that a potential employer will want to see what you know already about the company. This indicates your level of interest, and an effort to research and appreciate the work a company does. Take some time to visit the company website, learn about the company’s previous achievements, and find out who will be conducting the interview – title, personality, what they are looking for, etc. Ensure you know the location of the company and even take a practice drive to the site. Make sure you are not late and be 10 minutes early. However, do not be too early as this will send a similar message as being late (i.e. 30 minutes is too early).

  1. So Much is Said with the Unsaid

Make sure to dress professionally, even if the environment you are working in is casual – the interview is formal. At minimum, a sharp suit or conservative dress in dark colours with clean shoes will present well. Ensure your handshake is firm – practice with someone if need be – and maintain eye contact with the person asking you questions. Bring a copy of your cover letter, resume, and note pad.

  1. Talking Money

Do not initiate the conversation about the compensation package. The time will come for this, but you do not want to imply that this is most important to you.

  1. Ask Questions

Always come prepared with questions for the interviewer. This may be more natural for some than others, but you really do want to consider thoughtful questions about the role and company. This is an opportunity in the interview where you can again showcase your excitement in the role.

  1. Wrapping Up

If the answer is not readily provided, do ask what the next step looks like. Be sure to offer your gratitude for the interview.

  1. After the Interview

Send a thank you email or letter to the interviewing member(s). Make this letter short, professional, and to the point, again offering thanks for the opportunity to interview with them.

Habitat for Humanity: Community Build

On May 31st, the PMG team will be participating in the Habitat for Humanity Build Day in London, Ontario!

You can also be part of this wonderful cause by sponsoring our team from where you are right now. Follow the link to our team’s profile below to donate to help us reach our goal today:

Habitat Build Day Team Page

Every donation counts no matter what the amount so please give generously to this wonderful initiative. Our team thanks you sincerely for supporting our efforts!


Brian Small Earns Recruiting Recognition from NPAworldwide

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN, USA – August 28, 2018 – NPAworldwide is pleased to announce the following recruiting recognition:

  • Double Platinum Recruiter Achievement Status:
    • Brian Small, Prime Management Group, Inc. (, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
  • Gold Recruiter Achievement Status:
    • Megan Anderson, Recruiting Services / RSI (, Indianapolis, Indiana USA

The Recruiter Achievement Status program is a lifetime achievement program for NPAworldwide members. The Double Platinum level represents cumulative salary totals of at least US $10 million, while the Gold level represents cumulative salary totals of at least US $2 million.

“Member recruiters who have reached the Gold level or higher represent less than 10% of our entire membership,” reported president Dave Nerz. “Just one percent have achieved Double Platinum or higher. This recruiting recognition is a testament to both personal productivity and network tenure. It is a significant accomplishment.”

NPAworldwide recognizes six levels of performance through the Recruiter Achievement Status program. Platinum Premier is the highest level, followed by Double Platinum, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

About NPAworldwide. NPAworldwide is a global recruitment network facilitating placements between its members. The network has more than 500 member offices across 6 continents. For more information, please visit or

How well do you Prepare for an Interview?

You’ve awakened and it’s the day you have your first interview with a company you have dreamed of joining for a number of years. Are you ready to have a stellar interview that will bring you to the next level of your career?  Can you look in the mirror and honestly say “I am prepared”?

Interview preparation: is it an Art or a Science? To me, as a Recruiter working with Project Managers and Engineering staff, all around the world, I believe it’s an Art form. It’s not something you go to school for, or something they teach in university; it’s really all about you!

I remember back in my early years during school, I started developing my personality traits while playing sports and working at my first job. Team building, communication skills and technical skills are traits your interviewer will ask about during your first meeting and are very important to “sell” to demonstrate the value you can add to the organization. So how do you get there?

The interview process is seen by many as a challenge, filled with a sense of anxiety like you are on a first date. How do we prepare for that first meeting? Preparation in advance before you arrive to the interview will give you a clear mind with the ability to focus and answer the questions with detail.

Keys to a good start:

  1.  You find out all you can about the company – the more the better.
  2. Who will be part of the process? Will there be one person interviewing or will it be a group? If you find out their background, this will help during the first meeting.
  3. Arrive on time and dress appropriately.
  4. These are all good steps going into the first meeting

HR Professionals are often asked about the traits they look for in top candidates: Problem solving/initiative, communication and technical ability (do you have degree or PMP) are all very helpful.

I spoke with David Uze, an HR professional in Kitchener, and he believes a “Project Manager in matrix organizations may require strong influencing skills.” This is the ability to influence others to take certain actions even though that individual doesn’t report to the influencer.

Do you have Leadership Skills?

They may ask questions around how you hold team members accountable for deliverables.

Every meeting is important but first impressions will heighten your chances of being moved to the next stage in the process. You will need to show them strong examples of the times when you led a team and handled multiple projects simultaneously like a good leader can.

You must prep! Sitting down and looking at things – showing them you were proactive. Can you show the stakeholders how you will be able to overcome any roadblocks? How do you motivate a team? You must be able to demonstrate those learnings during the interview. So prepare by sitting down and writing a one-page synopsis around these points. Leadership starts early in life whether you’re the captain of a sports team or active member within your school. Life skills! All things that help in the interview setting.

Have you done your Homework?

Part of the process is understanding the organization and their core values. A big piece of it is understanding how you fit into the culture. Do you show any initiative within your last role or previous roles? It’s been said past behaviour predicts future behaviour. As with any leadership team who may interview you, they may think if you have done your homework you may likely do the same in your job.

I believe a big part of doing your homework shows initiative to the client. Demonstrate confidence in your ability as a leader. As we know, an inspiring leader will help the team do well and be successful for the company, so be positive and demonstrate these traits. A candidate who has done some background work will have a better chance in moving to the next step of the process or even the final stage. Good project managers are able to articulate their strengths during the interview.

Good preparation of anything must be done over time. As we grow, we develop many strengths and it is important to bring those to the interview. Work hard to prep yourself if you have challenges or weaknesses for the role. The candidate who gets chosen to move to the next level will often demonstrate their ability to learn, communicate, and show their technical skills and be a cultural fit for the organization.

The “Art” of the interview preparation must start early in life. The more you adapt, grow, and develop the traits of a good leader, the better the chances are to experience success during the interview process and landing that position with the company you have dreamed of. Excellent interview prep will help you win the race! I believe if you can show your leadership traits and have prepped yourself, you will show the interview team that you are the right person for the job!

There are so many staffing agencies out there. How do I pick the best one for our organization’s needs?

You are right!  There are lots of choices but like anything else, you need to do your homework.  Start with a web search and check out their website.  Don’t get fooled by fancy language on the website – that’s nice but who are the people behind the website?  Do a google search on the “people” and see what articles and information you can glean from that.  Are they the type of people you want to represent your organization in the marketplace?  Do they have the history, credentials and reputation you would like to see?  Your brand is going to be represented by them.  Think about that!  Ask for references so that you can actually speak to some who can tell you what it was like to work with them.  Don’t just ask for client references but ask for candidate references as well.  You want to understand how they work through a recruitment process and how they treat the candidates who are applying to your open positions.  Many firms specialize in a particular area or niche.  That can be valuable and yet it can be limiting.  If you are truly looking for the best candidate, they may not come from your industry.  Hard as it is to believe, some of the best placements we have made in the past 25 years have been with candidates who have taken their skills and applied them to new markets.  The clients love it as they have a person on their team who thinks differently and sees possibilities where non existed before.  Candidates who cross over from other industries bring a wealth of information and insight and potential and should not be overlooked.  Working with a Professional Recruitment Firm who is willing to search broadly and not just in your market, might introduce you to some wonderful candidates you never would have thought of.

Invest in some time up front to search out your best options for a Professional Recruiter and you will not be disappointed in the results.

I am overwhelmed with recruiters calling me all the time to see if they can help recruit for some of our open positions. What should I be doing?

This is very annoying and can be such a time waster for you.  As the “in house” recruiter, whether you be the HR Manager or someone designated to doing recruiting, it can take up so much of your time when unsolicited recruiters call you.

First of all, find out if your company/organization has a policy around working with recruiters.  Is there a preferred vendor list?  If so, find out who is on it and stick with it until you can help change it.  There is no point in wasting your time with a recruiter who can’t be paid by your company because they are not on the list.  If you are happy with the service you are getting from the existing recruiters, there is no point making a change any time soon.  However, if you believe there is room for improvement, carve out some time in your week to actually take a call or two from those recruiters and ask them to walk you through their recruitment process.  If they are simply calling to “flog a resume”, they are not genuinely interested in working with you and developing a plan.  They should be able to properly articulate all the steps they go through to help you find the ideal candidate.  Listen to them and see if this is the type of person you can work with.  After all, you are trusting them with a large portion of your responsibilities so you want to be sure they are trustworthy!  Find out if they have the network and the “reach” capabilities to actually identify and recruit those “hard to find candidates” who don’t apply to postings!

You can make a change to another recruiter but don’t do it unless it makes sense for you and your organization.  Do your homework first and don’t switch just because someone presented you a great resume – see if they are in it for the long term with you!

Don’t be afraid to say “thanks for calling but we won’t be entertaining another recruitment firm in the near future”.  Sometimes, it is better to be direct and if the recruiter is listening, they will politely ask if they can continue to keep in touch with you in case your situation changes.  It only make sense – you don’t have time to waste.

Our company is having a terrible time trying to find top talent. We place ads and job postings but never seem to land the right candidate. What are we doing wrong?

Likely, you are doing nothing “wrong” but you could be doing it a bit differently!  First of all, have you considered working with a Professional Recruiter?  Remember, a recruiter is someone who does that for a living, day in and day out.  They know the “inside candidate market” because they are in it constantly.  If cost is a consideration, take a look at what you have spent in terms of lost hours on your job – doing what you do best, hiring inappropriately and having to terminate a person or having the vacancy cause stress and extra hours for those who are trying to pick up the slack at work.  If you start to add all those “hidden costs”, the investment in a Professional Recruiter is minimal.  Having said that, you need to be clear on what your budget will allow and tell your recruiter that.  Some recruitment companies will negotiate their placement fees.  Some will work “contingency” for you, meaning you don’t pay a dime unless you end up hiring from them.  The advantage there is, you can “see what they have” and compare to what you were able to find on your own and then decide if it is worth the fee to hire from their efforts.

One of the best ways to work with a Professional Recruiter is on a retained basis.  If you select a reputable one, you will not be disappointed.  It is as if they become an extension of your organization.  They will get to know what will work for you and what won’t in terms of “chemistry or fit”.  They will do their due diligence on how the new person will integrate into the role and become a productive member of your team faster and more effectively.   They will do the tedious work of organizing interviews and putting together appropriate questions so you are all set for your interview.  They will listen to you as you discuss the pros and cons of each candidate and help you narrow it down so you make the “right” decision for you and your organization at this time.   They will represent your organization with integrity so that a candidate will make an informed decision about joining you.  They will search the marketplace and not just wait for someone to apply to the role.  They will conduct reference checks and credential checks so you can rest assured the candidate “checks out”.  They will follow up with you to ensure the placement is going well and even help with “on-boarding” the candidate.

There is a general feeling that retained searches cost more, however when you factor in all the benefits of being able to hand this over to a trusted advisor, the investment becomes minimal with maximum returns.